Daytime Urinary Problems in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Daytime accidental wetting is common in young children. It may be a normal part of your child's growth and development. Toilet-trained children may get so involved in play that they forget to go to the bathroom until it's too late. Or a child may have a medical problem, such as an infection or problem in the urinary tract. Emotional stress may also lead to daytime accidental wetting.

Treating the cause will usually stop the wetting. If stress is the cause, wetting often stops when you find ways to help your child ease the stress.

Frequent urination is common in children. It doesn't always mean that a child has a urinary problem. A child's bladder is small and doesn't hold as much urine as an adult's bladder. Your child may use the bathroom more simply from habit. Or it may happen because he or she drinks extra fluid or feels nervous. Irritation from a wet diaper can also cause frequent urination. So can contact with a chemical, such as soap or laundry detergent.

Pain while urinating and a need to go a lot can also mean your child has a urinary tract infection. If your child has an infection, you may find him or her trying to urinate more often than usual to soothe the pain. Increased urination or new daytime or nighttime wetting may also be a sign of a more serious problem, such as diabetes.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Encourage your child to go to the bathroom whenever he or she feels the urge.
  • Praise your child for being dry. You may use hugs, stickers, or special treats as rewards.
  • Be safe with medicines. Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • Don't make your child wear a diaper. That may make him or her feel like a baby. Wearing disposable underwear like Pull-Ups may help. But it may also make the problem last longer. This is because your child may have less reason to want to learn bladder control.

If your child delays going to the bathroom until he or she loses control and wets, there are some things you can try.

  • Encourage your child to use the toilet. Do this when you notice signs that he or she may need to go. Your child may do things like squat, squirm, cross the legs, or stand very still.
  • Offer more liquids to drink. Drinking more will increase how much urine is in the bladder. And this causes your child to need to go to the bathroom more often.
  • Have your child go to the bathroom every hour during the day.
  • Encourage your child to take extra time on the toilet. Doing this will make your child more likely to empty the bladder.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
    • Pain or burning when your child urinates.
    • A frequent need to urinate without being able to pass much urine.
    • Pain in the flank, which is just below the rib cage and above the waist on either side of the back.
    • Blood in your child's urine.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child has any symptoms of diabetes. These may include:
    • Being thirsty more often.
    • Urinating more.
    • Being hungrier.
    • Losing weight.
    • Being very tired.
  • Your child had bladder control but is wetting again.

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.